Saturday, September 13, 2014

On my theory of Belief

OK, this is a biggie.  It came to me this past month as I was struggling with some things.  I don't know if this will make sense, but I'm going to try.

It started when I got a new Android phone.  A great phone.  Lots of people use them.  So I had this new phone and about a week after I got it I went on a trip to Nashville to visit my son.  All of that went fine.  This isn't really about the trip, although to some extent it is.  You see the return flight was scheduled for 6;30 AM, which meant, working backwards, I'd have to get up a 4:30, do all my morning stuff and try to get to the airport by 5:30 at the latest.  I always like to give myself an hour.

So, I set my alarm on my new phone for 4;30, just in the same way I'd always done on my old phone.  I'd used the alarm on the new phone a few times for work related stuff, so I was confident about using it for this flight.  Of course if I missed the flight, that would be really bad.

I slept well.  My wife's alarm went off.  She did her stuff.  I dozed waiting for my alarm.  Even though we'd agreed on a 4:30 wake up, I figured she'd set hers for 4:00 since that's what the clock on my phone said.  Around the same time I noticed the clock on the bed table said 4:32, which I took to mean that someone, some dickhead obviously, had changed the time on that clock to make it about half an hour fast.

Then my wife gets out of the shower and asks me why I'm not getting ready.  That's when it struck me that my phone/clock was off by exactly 30 minutes.  OK, so how does that even happen?  That's a whole 'nother discussion.

The point of this little though exercise is that because I owned the clock/phone, and because I had set it myself, I believed it to be right, even in the face of two controverting facts.  1) My wife's alarm went off and she got up, and 2) the bedside table clock was 30 minutes ahead of my clock.

The power of belief is such that it can lead us to completely color the perceptions of things happening to us.  I thought the rest of the world must be wrong, that my clock must be right.

But that's not the only time it happened.

Well, I figured out why the clock was off.  Actually I didn't figure out why it was off, I just figured out that it was not set to pick up the network time.  Once I found that configuration option the time on the phone changed to the correct local time.

So later that same week I found myself driving from Buffalo to Rochester for a 9:00 AM meeting.  It's just over an hour drive and I wanted to get there early so I figured I'd leave Buffalo by 7:00, settle into Spot Coffee on East Street by 8:15 and it would be all ducky for my 9:00 AM meeting.  I set the alarm for 6:15AM.

The morning of the meeting I got up as the alarm rang, showered and packed, and then checked one of the games I habitually play.  Now I knew that a certain time in the game was supposed to run out overnight, but I saw that it had not.  That should have been a clue.

I had the hotel breakfast and noticed that the restaurant was really empty.  That should have been a clue.  I got in my car and noticed that the clock radio was set an hour early.  That should have been a clue.  All of these clues that I'd gotten up an hour early and it never occurred to me that my phone was off by an hour until I got to Rochester and Spot Coffee wasn't open yet.

So this is the set up.  These are the events that got me thinking about the power of belief, and how it can radically change our perceptions of the real world.

I'll write more about this later..